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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  July 2, 2012 1:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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legislature, which takes over in september. and we're likely to see a lot of big economic packages introduced then. ashleigh? >> okay. i can see your lips stopped moving, so you must have stopped talking. i couldn't hear a word. you did a good job down there. i know from the earlier hit. thanks for being with us. and thank you for being with us, everyone. i give up. sending it to wolf blitzer. wolf? >> ashleigh, thanks very much. happening now, president obama and mitt romney are locked in a dead heat right now. when it comes to battleground voters, the numbers aren't so close. the brand new cnn orc polls are just in. we're breaking them down for you. standby. also millions still without power, baking in record heat in washington, d.c., in the mid-atlantic, days after being clobbered by a deadly monster storm. is there any relief in sight? and an american grad student fights for his life after being
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violently mauled by two chimps in south africa. ahead, the horrifying details of the attack. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." these numbers just coming in. let's go to the battle for the white house. a brand new cnn o.r.c. poll is just being released right now. take a look at just how tight the race is. among registered voters nationally, nationally. 49% say they are for president obama versus 46% for mitt romney. that's with a 2.5% samplining err error. despite the landmark ruling, there's been no change in the number for either candidate since the last poll that came out in may. look at this, when it comes to
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voters in the so-called battleground states, about 15 of them, the numbers aren't so close. let's go straight to cnn's joe johns. he's breaking the numbers for us. he's in des moines, iowa, right now. tell our viewers what we're seeing, joe. >> reporter: wolf, there's certainly a lot more to this than meets the eye. the main takeaway is mitt romney is running ahead of the president in some of the states that matter most. conservatives are still shaking their heads. >> it was really a shock. >> i'm dispinted at their position. they came to a position. >> how could one of their own on the supreme court side with liberals onto uphold the institutionalty of the democrat's health care plan. in many ways it was still a conservative decision. >> this was a conservative judicial philosophy that says the role of the courts is to be the last resort, not the first resort. we only strike something down when it's a big piece of regulation if we absolutely have
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to. that's still quite conservative. >> and this type of thinking shouldn't be a surprise. >> wrong piece there running, obviously. the takeaway on our poll is even though the president maintains a slight edge in the nationwide polling. it's a different story in the 15 battleground states, including iowa, where i am right now. according to the latest cnn o.r.c. poll, mitt romney is out to an advantage among registered voters. in the 15 states that we can in play. the seven toss-up states and the eight states leaning towards either the president or his republican challenge. the news is not all good. as the election approaches, few things are seen more important for voter enthusiasm. the polling indicates in march only 46% of democrats said they were enthusiastic about involving in november. and now it's up to 59%. so that's a 13% increase in
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enthusiasm. on the democratic side. certainly not so on the republican side. it's been consistent since march. and really hasn't moved above 52% or 51%. >> still a significant number of americans out there, joe, who haven't made up their minds yet. they're maybe leaning one way or the other, but they're open to changing their minds down the road. still four months to go. >> that's true. you're talking about one in five. also important to know that 79% have already made up their mind. a lot of people out there are pretty much locked in. 39% said they made up their minds. 20% say their minds could change right now. you see the numbers. joe, thanks very much.
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jeff is here from "the new york times." he's one of the political correspondents, one of the best out there. what do you make of this, that obama is doing relatively well. 49-46 nationally among registered numbers. the same numbers he got back in may. that romney, definitely obama. it's 51% for romney. 43% for obama. >> definitely a higher margin of error. we know this race will be tight until the election day over the next four months. the race is being fought in battleground states. in some respects it's more helpful to look at that number. mitt romney and barack obama are going head to head in these states. what we don't know is how it breaks down specifically. ohio versus pennsylvania versus florida. but it confirms that's why the candidates are traveling to these states. they're spending money there. that's why the race is going on.
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>> i totally agree. what's happening in the battleground states is more important than what's happening nationally. we know president obama will carry california. we know he'll carry new york. we know mitt romney will carry texas. it's the battleground states like florida or ohio or virginia or pennsylvania, some of these battleground states that will make all the difference. >> and that's why the romney campaign -- in the last month. the obama campaign, for all the talk about the republicans outspending the democrats, and it's about equal overall, president obama is spending four times as much money than mitt romney in the battleground states. in ohio, for example, he's really assaulting him on the air with some negative ads on his time bain capital. if the president was in a better position, he would not be spending so much money. >> look at this clip from the new obama campaign ad. want to discuss it.
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>> they were pioneers in shipping u.s. jobs overseas. investing in firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by american workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like china and india. does iowa want an outsourcer in chief in the white house? >> these ads in the battleground states like iowa, for example, where they're airing the ads, they are working. >> they are beginning to work. what this poll confirms is people don't have their minds made up of governor romney yet. so the obama campaign is trying to use a story from the "washington post" calling him an outsourcer. he was not fair to the middle class. the romney campaign said whoa. these aren't fair. they haven't responded on television through a paid advertising campaign. i think the ads that have been playing for a few weeks now are probably going do have an
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effect. that's what the romney advisers told us. which is exactly why they're pushing back with negative attacks on their own. >> i have a clip of one of those ads. let me play it right now. >> barack obama's attacks against mitt romney are just not true. but that's barack obama. he also attacked hillary clinton with vicious lies. >> he continues to spend millions of dollars, perpetuating falsehoods. >> mitt romney has a plan to get america working. barack obama, worst job record since the depression. >> so shame on you, barack obama. >> that's a strong ad right there as well. >> it's hard to believe it was four years ago when we saw the ad the first time around. it is a strong ad. it's going to independent women voters who aren't sure about barack obama. the obama campaign is looking to see if this tyme of ad is going to work. she's probably raising doubts in
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the minds of some people. she's one of the most popular democratic figures in this administration. it's hard to believe it's going to move a lot of minds. one thing it is doing. one thing inside the poll is the intensity. democrats now are much more intense and enthusiastic about the race. they are starting to believe that barack obama could lose the race. that's something they didn't think a couple of months ago. >> you are extremely enthusiastic about voting in november. now 59% of democrats say they are. 51% of the republicans say they are very or extremely enthusi t enthusiastic. >> that's a big clahange. >> that's a very important number. i think "the new york times" may have broken the story that mitt romney decided he will visit israel this summer, make a trip to see the prime minister of israel, benjamin netanyahu. >> it's not an accident at all. he's taking a foreign trip. he's going to the olympics. it's similar what then senator
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obama did four years ago. he's going to try to benefit domestically, pitically here back at home with jewish voters who still have deep questions about president obama. it will be fascinating to see what he does on that trip. but no accident at all. troper planning, i wouldn't be surprised if he hasn't gone. >> i remember when president obama went in israel in july of 2008, he was the candidate. he went to israel. was well received there. a lot of jewish voters are concerned that as president of the united states, he has not visited israel. i'm sure the romney campaign will be making that. >> no doubt about it. they'll make itten issue on television ads and certainly when he goes there. perhaps the president would visit. i would be surprised during the rest of his general election campaign. but who know? >> i'm sure he'll meet with the palestinian authority. but we'll wait and see. thanks for cop coming in. >> thanks, wolf. the fierce race to the white
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house isn't about just poll numbers. it's also about raking in the cash. also, a major drug kpan is hit with the largest fraud settlement in u.s. history. $3 billion. it involves safety concerns about very popular drugs that may be in your medicine cabinet. and they're willing to die on the battlefield for the handlers. the military may not be giving these dogs the credit they're due. this is new york state. we built the first railway, the first trade route to the west, the greatest empires. then, some said, we lost our edge. well today, there's a new new york state. one that's working to attract businesses and create jobs. a place where innovation meets determination... and businesses lead the world. the new new york works for business.
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call now to request your free decision guide. it's now the largest fraud settlement in u.s. history. the justice department defining drug company glaxosmithkline $3 billion after failing to report important safety information on some of the most important and popular drugs. among the charges, the company
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will plead guilty to selling some of those medications as treatments for conditions that hadn't been approved for. cnn's alison kosik is joining us now with details. alison, what exactly did glaxosmithkline do? >> so glaxosmithkline is paying the $3 billion fine for marketing nine separate drugs off label. when they do that, that's when a pharmaceutical company markets the job as a treatment for conditions that are different from what the fda has approved. when you look at that and break it down, $1 billion of that is to settle criminal wrongdoing. $2 billion is covering civil liabilities. and the fine amounts to the biggest fraud settlement in u.s. history. the government said that what glaxosmithkline did was market p paxil to children. but the drug is for adults to treat depression and anxiety. wellubtrin is another drug. it was marketed as a weight loss drug, but it's really an
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anti-depressant. they're also accused of promoting drugs liked aadvair ad imitrex and paying kickbacks to doctors to prescribe the drugs. >> i'm sure, alison, this is pretty alarming to a lot of folks are taking these drugs, especially young people. >> i talked to an an attorney who said this glaxo case is really an example of a corporate culture that went off the tracks, meaning the fact that so many drugs were involved, it shows it wasn't a few rogue employees the trying to up the profits. it's more of a business plan of fraud that came from the higher ups. and from the average american standpoint, it certainly doesn't sit well. >> $3 billion coming into the u.s. treasury. i assume the money will be used to cut down the deficit or something else. thanks very much for that, alison. new signs president obama may be fighting a losing battle against mitt romney when it comes to raking in the big dollars. now there's a major new push
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under way to keep that from happening. our white house correspondent dan lothian is over at the white house. he's joining us now with the very latest. what's happening on the money front, dan? >> reporter: well, wolf, you remember back in 2008 president obama far outspent and outraised senator mccain. it's a different story this time around. the dash is not piling up as quickly. in part, wall street is not there for the president like they were in 2008. so the president is pushing very hard, letting his supporters know just what is at stake. it's an urgent presidential pitch for campaign cash that his critics call a sign of desperation. >> from now until november, the other side will spend more money than at any time in american history. >> a drastic change in tone from his 2008 campaign. in this recent e-mail, president obama pleaded for $3 donations with a bleak forecast. i will be the first president in modern history to be outspent in
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in his re-election campaign if things continue as they have so far. deputy campaign manager connected the zots in this e-mail. if we're drastically outspent in this election, there's a good chance we will lose to mitt romney. >> you may be who decides who the next president is. and if you are, it will be many. >> superpacs have helped massachusetts governor mitt romney pull ahead of the president's fund raising efforts. a big concern for the obama campaign, which is turning up the heat on small and big donors. on his way back from surveying the devastating colorado wildfires last friday, president obama reached out to supporters for air force one. using a phone a campaign official tells cnn is dedicated to political calls. and is not funded by taxpayers. the daily beast, which received an 18-minute audio recording, first reported on what it described as a rambling conference call where the president sound eed weary and worried as he begged for cash. >> we don't know how many people were on this call.
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but people who have been hit up or money from the campaign several times at least, we know they were hit up in 2008. many of them gave the maximum amount you can to a campaign back then. and this time the president very anxious about the fund raising deadlines coming up. >> cnn has not heard the reporting, but a campaign official characterized the appeal as a routine fund raising call. cnn political editor paul steinhauser says the urgent tone is about more than the bottom line. >> it's an alarm bell across the country to democrats who haven't contributed to the president's re-election campaign. >> and it's not just about the money, as the president makes this hard sell. it's also about the votes, and so the president is reaching out, not only to his base but also to independent voters, letting them know that this will be a very close election and that he will need every vote. wolf? >> is the white house suggesting, dan, that the
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president routinely uses that specific phone aboard air force one to debunk the political fund raising. >> they didn't say routinely, but an official told me they do have the phone. it's only used for the political events, for campaign phone calls. it's not paid for by taxpayers. it's paid for by the campaign. it is a phone that he has at his his disposal. unclear how often he uses it. >> phil burton will be joining us in the 6:00 p.m. eastern hour later today. he runs one of the pro-obama sup superpacs being crushed by the pro-romney superpacs. warnings are up in at least 18 states today because it's dangerously hot. the trouble is, there's no way to keep cool. standby for an update. the passive power outages caused by a killer storm. a pair of would-be robbers use
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trash bags to disguise themselves. you'll want to see what happens when they ask the clerk to open the cash register. [ male announcer ] count the number of buttons in your car. now count the number of buttons on your tablet. isn't it time the automobile advanced? introducing cue in the all-new cadillac xts. the simplicity of a tablet has come to your car. ♪ the all-new cadillac xts has arrived. and it's bringing the future forward. hey america, even though slisa rinna is wearing the new depend silhouette briefs for charity to prove how great the fit is even under a fantastic dress. the best protection now looks, fits and feels just like underwear. we invite you to get a free
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lots and lots of people here in washington, d.c. and the neighboring area still can't use the air conditioner today, and it's hot outside. lisa sylvester is monitoring that and other stories in "the situation room." >> from illinois and ohio to the east coast, at least 2 million people are enduring another scorching day without electricity because of friday night's wave of storms. the heat wave isn't going away. and the power in some areas may not come back until friday. the storms are blamed for at least 19 deaths. mostly from falling trees and limbs. we'll have more on the storm damage and continuing misery during the next hour of "the situation room." and tens of thousands of colorado residents who fled one of the state's most destructive wildfires now have the all clear to return home.
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but tragically now some have no homes. waldo canyon fire deindustried many homes. and july got off to a lackluster start on wall street. investors spooked by a new survey indicating the global economic slowdown is starting to hurt u.s. manufacturing. the dow industrial closed slilgt slightly lower, while the tech heavy nasdaq posted modest gains. and how not to rob a doughnut shop. a couple of women in albuquerque asked to borrow the cell phone to call a taxi. they came back wearing trash bags. that's what you see there, and demanding money, the clerk chased them out into the waiting cab, it looks like she has a stick there. a few blocks later, the cabbie turned them out also because they were broke. no one has seen them since. does not sound like a smart idea at all, wolf. >> not smart to do a robbery to
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begin with. mitt romney may have a big problem right now. our strategy session is getting ready to take a close look at why he has some careful explaining to do now that people understand the u.s. supreme court's ruling on president obama's health care reform law. stay with us. ake care of legal matters. wouldn't it be nice if there was an easier, less-expensive option than using a traditional lawyer? well, legalzoom came up with a better way. we took the best of the old and combined it with modern technology. together you get quality services on your terms, with total customer support. legalzoom documents have been accepted in all 50 states, and they're backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. so go to today and see for yourself. it's law that just makes sense. [ male announcer ] aggressive styling. a more fuel-efficient turbocharged engine. and a completely redesigned interior. ♪
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if your bank doesn't let you talk to a real person 24/7, you need an ally. hello ? ally bank. no nonsense. just people sense. i'm wolf blitzer. here are some of the stories we're working on for our next hour. our weather experts explain what caused the deadly storm with an
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unusual name that roared through the midwest and mid-atlantic states. secretary of state hillary clinton tells cnn if she thinks the russians are able to convince syrian's leader that he has to go. plus, the e-mails behind the explosive new allegations that more than a decade ago high ranking penn state leaders knew they had a serious problem with the coach, jerry sandusky. standby. you're in "the situation room." just days after the supreme court issued the historic ruling, upholding what they call obama care. the debate may only be just getting started. our chief correspondent candy
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crowley has a final verdict on why it may come down to the court of public opinion, that would be the voters. >> you can't go higher than the high court. so the way the white house figures it, health care is the law of the land, period. >> it's time to get over the debate and to implement the law. >> reporter: the problem is the settled law is one thing. settled politics is an oxymoron. >> i find it amazing when the governor and others in her party dismiss the difference between the state having a plan and the federal government having a plan. there's all the difference in the world. you can have states alone -- >> the supreme court just dismissed it. >> across sunday talk shows the health care debate moved from the secret chambers of the supreme court back across the street where it began. >> this has to be ripped out by the roots. this is government taking over the entire health insurance industry. the american people do not want
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to get on this path. >> after the fourth of july recess -- >> this is a 15-minute vote. the house is planning to vote on repeal of health care law. blow it up. even the popular parts, like banning insurance companies from banning lifetime caps on benefits or refusing coverage to people with preexisting conditio conditions, and that's why even though repeal will pass, the republican to nominated house, democratic leader nancy pelosi is smiling. >> repeal of all the things that help children, help seniors, help men or women who have prostate cancer, breast cancer, whatever it is, any preexisting condition. and everybody will have lower rates better quality care and better access. if that's what we want to repeal, we're happy to have the debate. >> reporter: pelosi can afford to be mellow. she and everybody else knows it will never pass a majority senate. speaking of which, mitch mcconnell may be in the minority
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now, but he happened to mention sunday that november could change things. >> if i'm the leader of the majority next year, i commit to the american people that the repeal of obamacare will be job one. by the way, i think we will also be insisting that we have a vote on obama care again before the election. but in terms of achieving it, it would take a different senate with a different majority leader and a different president. >> which brings us to where the supreme court really sent the health care debate. >> it's beyond congress, the president and the supreme court. the american people will be the judge and jury of this law come november. >> turns out, you can go higher than the high court. candy crowley, cnn, washington. >> all right. let's take a look right now at the strategy session. two of cnn political contributors joining me. the democratic strategist maria cardona and editor in chief of the conservative political blog, and the brand new cnn orc poll that's coming up this hour,
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registered voters nationwide, we asked the question, who would better handle health care. look at this, eric. 51% said president obama. 44% said mitt romney. were you surprised by that. >> no. democrats typically always have a lead in the particular question. i'm surprised it's that close. a lot of the data is 50/50. one of the also consistent strains in the cnn poll is a majority of the americans want to see obamacare repealed in full. if you take the polling averages out there now now, it's a so% gap. cnn has it closer. nothing has changed in america today after the supreme court opinion. >> you think anything has changed, maria? >> i do think something has changed. that's people are really starting to understand what obama care is going to bring them, their families, especially those families with children, with preexisting conditions, seniors who can now afford prescription drugs, kids who can now stay on their parents health
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insurance policies. the white house has a significant opportunity that they didn't do good enough the first time around. that's really talking to the american people about all the terrific benefits, including the fact that the republican spin on the health care act is just wrong. because this will be one of the greatest tax cuts to middle class families in history. i do think things have changed. >> hold on, hold on. >> there's a poll out there that actually says that the american people are looking more positively towards this. so we're going to move forward and continue to talk about those things. >> why were you laugh sng. >> truth hurts. >> the congressional budget office shows as the law stretches out over -- remember, not just the next 10 or 15 years -- the middle class is going to share the burden overwhelmingly. it's going to be middle class to pay the biggest cost.
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these are the same things we had in 2010 before the law was passed. this is the same as 2011, after the law passed. you know what has been consistent is the majority of americans want the law gone. this is a poll we took after the supreme court decision. and back in may obama was ahead 49-46% among registered voters nationally. right now half the supreme court decision, obama is ahead nationally 49-46%. so it looks like nationally among registered voters, the supreme court decision on health care had absolutely no impact. >> clearly, i don't think enough time has passed in order for this to sink in. there's no question there's still a huge challenge for the white house. not just on health care, but in the campaign in general. the president has said from the
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beginning, this is a tremendous challenge for president obama because of the economy. this law now gives this president and democrats and all of those families who are now enjoying all of those benefits to talk about what it is that this health care law gives them. and let's remember, in all of the polling where a lot of the percentages, and it's probably 50% of people who don't like obamacare, around 15% to 20% of those are very liberal democrats who don't like it because they don't think it went far enough. they don't want it repealed. >> a lot of them wanted a public option. here's a number that you and a lot of other conservatives should be worried about. are you extremely or very enthusiastic about voting in november? back in march, look at this, 46% of democrats said they were extremely or very enthusiastic about voting. right now it's jumped up to 59%. among republicans it's stayed the same, back in march, 52%.
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now 51%. that number sure worry system to republicans out there, don't you think? >> no, not necessarily, wolf. largely because when you look at poll data. if you look going back to the primaries, going back to 2010, we saw when news came out it took ten days to sink into the public consciousness. whether maria is right or i'm right, it's going to take another couple weeks to sink into the american consciousness. i'm not necessarily sure that there's a huge enthusiasm gap in going out and being pro-mitt romney. everyone knows most of the republicans going out there right now are not enthusiastic about mitt romney. they're enthusiastic about beating barack obama. >> there's a lot of them out there to be sure. here's another number about the president's job approval number. it shows how is president obama handling his job as president? 51% say they approve. 47% say they disapprove. the number has been pretty
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consistent in these recent polls. >> it has been. but we've also seen in past polls that it's been reversed where the disapproval is bigger than the approval. so i think it's going in the right direction. but again, i'll go back to the tremendous challenge that this is going to be. it's going to be a very close election. it's going to be fought in the battleground states. an the people who matter in the battleground states are both the base for both parties as well as the small independents. the number is hugely important. several months ago people were talking about -- republican strategists talking about democrats should be worried ha we department have the enthusiasm, and it's now the other way around. >> plopz is winning in the battlegrounds. >> i was about to say, let's not forget in the 15 battleground states. right now mitt romney is ahead
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51% to obama's 43%. that's a number that should deeply concern the obama campaign. >> there's no question. absolutely. i go back to the challenge. no one knows the challenge better than president obama himself. this is going to be a very close, heated, hard fought election. while mitt romney's policies are basically going to help the richest in the company in the biggest corporations. >> we theard that one many times. we'll hear it many more times. >> yes, you will. >> according to the military rules, some of the bravest dogs you've ever seen being treated like pieces of unneeded junk. this is a shocking story. stay with us to see who is trying to change things. new details about a horrifying attack by chimpanzees in a wildlife sanctuary. ♪
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6r789s you're you're going to see some absolutely amazing dogs in the next story. then you may get angry about how they're being treated. basically like inanimate objects. some members of congress are
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among those most upset right now. here's the pentagon correspondent, chris lawrence. >> the bond between soldier and search dog was forged the day she discovered her first i.e.d. >> that right there was the moment that the relationship went from okay, you know, i care about her, i love her, to this dog is absolutely amazing. >> reporter: it was a remote village in kandahar, afghanistan, the sergeant's patrol headed right towards a hidden bomb, but the dog sniffed it out, embedded in a wall, and alerted them in time. >> i have a soldier to save my life. we'll be best friends for life. and it's the same thing with this dog. you okay? >> reporter: there are nearly 3,000 military working dogs and 600 are serving in war zones. they eat, sleep and fight alongside their handlers 24/7. but the military classifies them as equipment, right along with
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the rifles. so if a dog gets old and retires on a base overseas, he's considered excess equipment, not entitled to transport home. someone who wants to adopt him has to pay the shipping cost, which can run thousands of dollars. so when dog handler left the army, he couldn't afford to adopt his partner. named nusca. because it meant flying to an overseas base to get her. >> it will be in the couple thousand dollars between the ticket for myself, the ticket for the dog, and the short notice. >> you want to bring her back, but, i mean, that's a lot of money. >> exactly. right now i'm a full time student. my wife works part time at the local mall here. we have our son to raise. so there's not always a lot of extra money laying around to just go up and get a dog. >> despite her four tours in
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iraq and afghanistan, she could have been left behind. now there's a push in congress to give the dogs their due. >> we're looking for a classification that is higher than equipped. >> representative walter jones cosponsored a bill to make them canine members of the armed services. it would allow the military to honor courageous dogs and make sure they all get blown back to the united states and set up a private fupd for lifetime health care. . then certainly we can find a few thousand dollars to say that the dog was more than e kwipted. the bond we have the dogs is absolutely amazing. nusca is 12 years old and still feels the effects of her four
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deployments. >> even still sttoday, she's ap reir apprehensive about loud noises. >> robert brought her home. >> what life she does have left, deserves to be comfortable for all she's given. she's given as much as all the soldiers have. >> she's an amazing dog. got a chance to play around with her a little bit. >> got to say, not many critics out there of this legislation, but the ones that are, say, look, it's not the taxpayer's responsibility to ship something to you if you bought it. in other words, if you buy a truck at a military auction, it's not the military's responsibility to ship it from the base in germany to your house in virginia. >> chris lawrence, thanks for doing the report for us. eye opening for me at least, and i'm sure the viewers appreciate
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it very much. >> if you're thinking of having the extra cup of java in the morning. you may want to go ahead. standby. and our own ander son cooper makes a very personal announcement. north america's natural gas producers are committed to safely and responsibly providing generations of cleaner-burning energy for our country, drilling thousands of feet below fresh water sources within self-contained well systems. and, using state-of-the-art monitoring technologies, rigorous practices help ensure our operations are safe and clean for our communities and the environment. we're america's natural gas.
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after more than a decade in the political wilderness, the party that ruled for more than 70 years may be returning to power. that country's presidential election is also hugely important for the people of the united states. especially along the u.s./mexican border. let's go live to mexico city. miguel is joining us with the very latest. dramatic developments happening just south of the border. miguel, tell our viewers. >> reporter: this is absolutely dramatic. the p.r.i. is back in power here. the vote will be okayed on wednesday, we expect, and mexico will see a leader like we've never seen before. in his first address to the nation, the projected president-elect enrique pe pena nieto struck a humble tone. mexico has given us something
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new today, he says; a second chance for the revolution. politically humiliated in 2000, it struggled to survive. many believe the humanitarian was on his death bed. when we met him on the campaign trail, he said it would mean close ties to the u.s. and emphasized today's p.r.i. as a different party, learning the lessons of the past. >> translator: we're a political party that's changed because mexico has changed, he says. we prepare for this election, and we'll be judged by our results. the 45-year-old former governor has reinvigorated the party by winning on a promise of change. what's expected, major reforms to the energy sector, bringing competition to the government-run oil monopoly. a close second taking aim at drug violence and the cartels. he's already hired colombia's top cop as anned a virz. an adviser. the fight against drug crime will continue, he says.
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we'll reduce violence and we will not negotiate with cartels. he was criticized, his motorcade attacked over his closest associates that controlled 90% of the broadcast market here. he also came under fire for the heavy handed approach in clearing protesters from a street in 2006, when he was governor of the state of mexico. he admitted fathering two children out of wedlock, and after his first wife died suddenly in 2007, the future candidate with hollywood good looks married a former soap opera star. he's unlike any mexican leader we've ever seen. now he must prove he's up to the job. and he just might be able to, wolf. unlike the current administration, he'll have a lock on power. he'll outright control the lower house and he'll at least have a working management in the upper house, the senators. wolf? >> we're looking forward to
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getting to know him better. thanks for the report. lisa sylvester is monitoring other top stories in "the situation room" right now. including a new report on a possible medical benefit of drinking coffee. >> that's right, wolf. it's enough to justify drinking two or three cups of cough kncoh knee in the morning. the more caffeinated coffee you drink, the more you protect yourself from skin cancer. the caffeine seems to do the trick. there's also cancer fighting punch in tea, cola drinks and chocolate. and our colleague anderson cooper's publicly sharing word that he's gay. in a letter posted on the daily beast, anderson writes, quote, while as a society we are moving the towards greater inclusion and equalitity for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible. there continue to be far too many incidents of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages based on their sexual orientation.
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and i believe there is value in making clear where i stand. the fact is, i'm gay, always have been, and always will be, and i couldn't be any more happy, comfortable with myself and proud. anderson hopes this doesn't mean an end to what he calls his personal space. >> he deserves his personal space like everyone. i appreciate exactly what he said. thanks very much, lisa, for that. anderson is off this week. but he'll be back next week here on cnn. as of tonight "the situation room" is expanding a third full hour starting at 6:00 p.m. eastern. it's all new. you're going to notice some important differences. some tweaks, as we say. stick around. ou new 6:00 p.m. situation room starts in a little bit more than an hour from now. meanwhile, a lot more coming up here in "the situation room." a u.s. graduate student fighting for his life after chimpanzees in a wildlife its top ratinge hertz
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i tell mike what i can spend. i do my best to make that work. we're driving safely. and sue saved money on brakes. now that's personal pricing. an american grad student is fighting for his life after being mauled by two chimps in south africa.
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>> friends are taking to facebook to raise money for 26-year-old andrew overly, he was mauled by chimpanzees in south africa. the university of texas student was there doing research for his master's degree. overly was showing tourists around when he crossed into an off-limits area, between two fences. no one knows why. when he got close enough to the inner fence, the chimpanzees grabbed him. >> chimpanzees are known to be violent. they can kill other animals. male chimpanzees are particularly strong. violence with chimpanzees is not unusual. >> eugene is post of the animal planet's escape to chimp eden show reportedly rescued overly after firing rounds in the air and ground. the chimpanzees are known to be extremely territorial and very strong. with five times the strength of an adult male, may can inflict horrendous damage. >> the arms and legs are very damaging because they're so
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strong. but the main impact is their teeth. they can bite out softball sized chunks of flesh. they can bite right through bone. the jaw strength is incredible. so certainly when they really want to inflict serious damage, it's the mouth you have to worry about it. >> the jane goodell institution protects chimpanzees who have been chained as pets. in a statement the institute sate, quote, this is a terrible strategy that should never happen. all our thoughts and prayers are with this young man and family. overly is now recovering at a johannesburg hospital with injuries to his hands, legs and torso. his friends say they're shocked this happened. they said he was very knowledgeable and had worked in zoos for many years. >> he loves chimps. it's his passion. it's what he loves to do. and he really cares about animals and really wants to help them and learn about them. and teach other people about them.
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>> andrew overly is now in stable but critical condition, and we're learning more details about the rescue by eugene cousins. he fired them in the ground, but that caused them to turn their attention on him. so he got back into the vehicle where they continued charging at him. he shot one of the chimpanzees in the abdomen. at that point, the others backed off. finally then they were able to rescue him. >> heart breaking story. >> my heart goes out to him and his family. >> me, too. thank you, lisa. you're in "the situation room." happening now, millions and millions of americans stuck in record heat without power after a ferocious killer storm hammers an area stretching hundreds of miles. we're going to show you just how it got -- it's getting in a house when there's no electricity going on. standby. as massive wildfires rage out west, people are returning to their homes that simply no longer exist. we brought you the heart renching story of a grandmother
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caring for her orphan grandson. we're going to see what happens when they face the ruins for the first time. and has the u.s. supreme court sprung a leak? a new report that the chief justice john roberts changed his mind in siding with liberals on the health care vote. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." much of the eastern united states is in a state of emergency today as residents face a massive cleanup from a rare and terrifying storm. it struck friday night late. a wall of fury hundreds of miles wide with wind gusts topping 80 miles an hour. a massive thunderstorm come plegs with tornado-like power. >> it sounded like a freight
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train. it was just loud and dark and the hail was coming, and i heard it go, bam, and it comes down. >> take a look at this composite radar image. it shows how the stornl raced out of the midwest in a wide, straight line. it traveled 600 miles, reaching the east coast of the united states within hours. impact incredible ve rosty and the impact is still unfolding. at least 19 people were killed. 26-year-old kip nuan died friday night in springfield, virginia. that's right outside washington, d.c. he told his wife he was heading home. he was heading home just before the storm struck. when he didn't show up, though, she went out to look for him. >> he just called me. he said he would be home in ten minutes. i'm walting for him to get home. 20 minutes pass by and i haven't seen him. the detective came over and told me that my husband passed away
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because the tree fell on top of the car. >> today millions of people are still without power from the midwest to the midatlantic. that still means temperatures in the 90s for the eastern two-thirds of the united states. 18 states are under heat advisories. brian todd has been checking impact in the washington, d.c. are area. >> wolf, we're in arlington, virginia. real devastation in the areas. take a look at this. a tree came down on this power line right here. a tree fell on the car and completely crushed the vehicle right there. when a tree took out the power line, it disabled the pole. a complete domino effect. that line pulled down. then a domino effect down a
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ravine right here. we're told 12 power poles are out on the street. we're told this neighborhood may not get power back until tomorrow night at the earliest. and this is a fairly typical scene throughout the entire region. his power has been out for two and a half somedays in sweltering heat. he tries to save food from his freezer to take to his brother-in-law's louse. >> how uncomfortable is it right now? >> it's very uncomfortable. we're not used to the heat and humidity. we're krused to the air-conditioning. >> you're concern with her well being. she's only 8 years old. >> yeah, it's really hot for her. we're here to pick up clothes and toiletries and spend the night at the in-laws.
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for h. >> reporter:ed if good region. his house is it with can be unhealthy to stay home in the heat in wake of violent thunderstorms. so what does the average house have to deal with as far as temperatures? we're in the basement of their house. we're going to show you temperatures at each level. in the basement here we have an infrared thermometer blasted against the wall. temperature reading is 75 degrees. let's head to the middle level. now we're this the middle level of their house. let's read the wall, 83 degrees. now let's try the third floor, the uppermost floor of the house. blast the wall. 91 degrees. that's why they tell you to go to the lowest level of the house in a power outage. or go to a mall or library, or try to find shade in a breeze outside as these residents of a senior living facility are doing. >> i've lived through it before. i can do it again. >> from the midwest to the midatlantic, hundreds of thousands are wour power, maybe more.
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temperatures are spiking to record levels. and people are being warned not to test the heat endurance. power company crews are getting help from as far away as canada. they're still overextended. their street is one of the hardest hit. it disabled the pole. that knocked out this one over here. and we're going to talk to josh little. he's a crew supervisor. josh, this obviously disabled this poll and pole and one down there. how long does it take you to get this back to power? >> usually it will take me two days. i can't use in modern equipment in here. it has to be set by hand. so at least two days. >> an eternity for families just trying to escape the heat. >> does it make you think twice about todstaying in the area? >> no. this is nature. it happens, you know.
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>> so as residents try to cope with all this, the power crews have their own obstacles to overcome. we're told by power company officials that it's too dangerous basically for them to work at night. they can't get up in work in transformers or the lines that are down are hard to see. they can't do it at night, too dangerous. we're told by state officials here and elsewhere that the last person or customer to get power back in this general region may not get it back, may not receive it until late friday night, wolf. >> i understand that in the early hours right after the storm, some of the dangers were made worse by problems with the emergency response systems. what else? >> that's right. county officials in fairfax and prince william counties have told us the 911 emergency response systems, those numbers and the lines were down. they had to get the word out by facebook, twitter, radio and tv to give people al alternate nums
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to call. most, if not all the systems are back up. but they're investigating what happened there. that's not the best time for it to happen. that was in the immediate hours after the storm. >> brian todd on the scene for us as he always is. let's get a little closer look at the extraordinary storm from our meteorologist, alexandra steele. she's at the cnn severe weather center. >> hey, wolf. well you know what, it's called a durecheo. and it's deadly and dangerous. in the midwest and the great lakes, it's not uncommon in the summer to have one. now in washington, d.c. on the other hand, it's more uncommon. happens once every four years. let me show you what it looks like. here's chicago. there it is. it's like a lawnmower mowing everything down in the path. it began in iowa. moved through illinois, indiana, ohio and moved to washington, d.c. it's just a fast moving, long lasting violent thunderstorm complex, in essence. acts like a tornado.
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but a tornado is quick lived. this is certainly not. so you can see what it did to washington, d.c. you can see how severe it was. all right, so it covered 650 miles. so just an incredibly long path. now the wind reports have been incredible, and of course, with 350 miles wide at one point, you can only imagine. 91 miles per hour wind gusts in ft. wayne, indiana. 80 mile per hour wind gusts reported in ohio. and in washington, d.c. where so much destruction and damage was. 70 miles per hour winds were reported. so certainly it has a lot of energy, and it's incredibly robust. so how and why did it happen? well, the ingredients are there. you need a few things for it to occur. hot air, boy we had that, right? check. record breaking heat around the country. 100-degree temperatures. also, we need a front. we had that. also, what we need, very strong
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winds. low level winds. and we certainly have that as well. so all the ingredients came together. so in essence, really, it's a fierce powerful, long lasting wind storm that kind of just moves and crushes everything in the path. it's very difficult to predict, though. that's the one thing with a derecho. it leaves behind hurricane-like damage, which we have seen. >> alexandra steele reporting for us. thank you. now to the fire scorching much of the western united states. hundreds of thousands of acres are burning across six stating, including south dakota, where a large fire fighting plane has crashed. this is the secondary tanker to crash recently, prompting the u.s. military to ground that type of special fire fighting plane which is bad news because these planes can discharge 3,000 gallons of water in less than five seconds. a glimmer of hope, meanwhile, in
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colorado. officials say they stopped the massive waldo canyon fire from growing any bigger. they're now focusing in on small remaining fires within the 18,000 acres already burned. the worst fire in state history. only 55% contained as of now. the u.s. forest service says it could be two more weeks before it's fully under control. >> bittersweet news for many of the 32,000 people who evacuated from the fire. they're being told they can now return home, but for hundreds of these people, their worst fears are coming true. there's no home left standing. jim spellman is joining us now. he's been following one family's hart renching story of survival. jim? >> hey, wolf. as the firefighters make progress, for people who lost everything, their battles are just binning. take a look. >> here we are in the driveway.
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oh my gosh. oh my good rns. goodness. wow. >> susan knew the wildfire destroyed her home, but seeing it up close was devastating. there it is. my home. 18 years. though her neighborhood is still evacuated, she was allowed to visit what's left of her home for a few hours. she brought along a camera to record the experience for cnn. >> there's my name's home. intact. my other neighbor's home intact. every home arn me, intact. oh my god. this is unreal. >> we first met susan after her daughter and son-in-law died, she was left to raise these four grandsons as well as her 16-year-old daughter hanna. now their hope is gone.
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>> i was born and raised there. i mean, i made all the childhood friends in that neighborhood. and it's where i've grown up my whole life. it's very hard to see it like that. >> susan's story impacted people from around the country, with hundreds coming forward to offer them help to start over. she knows rebuilding will be difficult for the boys. >> when you realized the home was destroyed and you'll be starting over again in another new house. how did that feel? >> i don't know. it kind of felt scared. >> we're probably going to have a hard time with getting used to it. like we were used to our old house. it has been burned to the ground. >> she isn't sure if she'll rebuild in the old neighborhood. >> how do you live up there? it would be like living in a
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twilight zone episode. >> she'll search the remains of what's left of her homes for anything to her old life. >> we're going to try to come back in the next couple days and sift through and see if we can find anything. >> and take stock of what matters most. >> to see it and to walk down in it, we walked down in it and kind of sifted through a few things, and, yeah, it was closure. it was painful. but, it was also a blessing to realize that we're okay. and we will be okay. >> wolf, the residents here don't know when they'll be able to get to this the devastated areas to start rebuilding. it could be weeks or months before they can start putting their lives back together. >> we wish them only the best in the awful circumstances. thanks for the report. and to our viewers out there, you can help the victims of the fires. to get more information, go to
2:15 pm new alleged e-mails in the case against jerry sandusky. they may show penn state officials, the highest ranking officials new very disturbing details about sandusky with a young boy, be they chose to cover it all up. standby. and michael phelps won't be breaking his own medal record this summer. why he's dropping out of an event he won the gold in four years ago. and as the violence rages on in syria, a new peace plan emerges, but not so fast. why the secretary of state hillary clinton says it may not work.
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more potential trouble for penn state university in the case against the former football coach jerry sandusky. cnn obtained exclusive information about e-mails that may show high ranking school officials knew about an incident involving sandusky and a yoing boy in a shower and chose to turn a blind eye.
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sus sus susan candiotti obtained the information from a source. >> well, there are two key points here, wolf. first of all, the alleged e-mails indicate penn state officials had a plan to contact child welfare officials, as they're required to, to report the 2001 shower incident, and investigate a possible case of child abuse. but they changed their minds. and the exchanges also suggest coach joe paterno might have played a role in that decision. cnn has been given details of four e-mail exchanges from sources with knowledge of the case, raising new questions about what penn state knew and when they knew it. the e-mails are between penn state president graham spanier, vice president gary schultz and the athletic director tim curly.
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the first e-mail is zated february 26th, 2001. that's 16 days after mcqueary reports to his boss, coach joe paterno, about what he has seen in the shower. paterno testified, quote, it was a sexual nature. by now mcqueary testified. he's told athletic director curly and vp schultz about what he saw, a boy with his hands up against a wall with sandusky behind him. the alleged he mails don't mention sandusky by name, instead calling him the subject and person. in the first exchange, schultz messages curly about a three-part plan to, quote, talk with the subject, contacting the charitable organization, second mile, and contacting the department of welfare. that's an agency required by law to investigate suspected abuse. yet, the next night, curly indicates a change of heart.
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he allegedly sends an e-mail to penn state's president spanier, and refers to a discussion they had two days earlier about sandusky. curly says he wants to talk things over with sandusky and work with him before deciding whether to contact child welfare. he also refers to coach paterno. did something he said change curly's mind? quote, after giving it more thought and talking it over with joe yesterday, i am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps. i am having trouble with going to everyone but the person involved. i would be more comfortable meeting with the person, and tell them about the information we received. and tell them we are aware of the first situation. the first situation he's referring to is a separate shower incident sandusky had with a boy in 1998. sandusky was not charged at the
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time. he was convicted of both incidents at trial. curly plans to tell sandusky, we feel there's a problem and offer professional help. and at some point soon inform his organization, sandusky's second mile, and quote, maybe the other one. according to a source with knowledge of the e-mails, he's referring to child welfare. if sandusky is, quote, cooperative, curly writes, quote, we would work with him. if not, we do not have a choice and will inform the two groups. two hours later, penn state's president responds and agrees with the approach. quote, i am supportive, spanier writes, and adds the only downside for us is if the message isn't heard and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it. but that can be assessed down the road. spanier calls the plan humane and a reasonable way to proceed.
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the next day, vp schultz weighs in with an alleged e-mail to spanier and athletic director curly. this is a more humane and up front way to handle this, he writes. we will inform the organization with or without his cooperation. we can play by ear to decide about the other organization. another reference a source says to outside authorities. but that never happened. authorities say records show suspicions about sandusky in 2001 were never reported to any outside agency. victim five was molested by sandusky in a penn state shower about six months after the mcqueary incident. and sandusky later went onto sexually abuse at least three other boys. years later, all testified at trial. curly and schultz are already charged with perjury and failure to report sex abuse. they pleaded not guilty.
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sources say spanier can also be charged. his lawyer did not return repeated calls for comment. lawyers provided this statement to cnn. quote, as pennsylvania governor tom corbett stated, if we were going to do the case, we had to have the best possible case to go against somebody like sandusky, who is loved by everybody. end quote. the lawyers add for curly, spanie and paterno, the responsible and humane thing to do was carefully and responsibly handle the vague but troubling allegations. faced with tough situations, good people try to do their best to make the right decisions. a spokesman for joe paterno's team says paterno did the right thing. a spokesman said, quote, everybody should want the truth, and joe always told the truth. now, wolf, a source with
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knowledge of the investigation also says that billing records between the university and an outside council that they were using at about the the time of the 2001 incident also are being examinened, and these documents show according to a source with knowledge of the free invers gags, that the university was researching their legal obligation to report the 2001 incident. wolf? >> thanks so much for that report. susan kancandiotti with exclusi reporting for all of us. and a new plan for syria to ease president bashar al-assad out of power. secretary of state hillary clinton is speaking exclusively to cnn. and the supreme court apparently springs a leak. keyword. new word that chief justice john roberts changed his mind before the health care ruling. what's going on? our own jeff toobin is standing by. yes it's true. how is this possible? proper tire inflation,
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as the violence rages on in syria, the opposition leaders are meeting in egypt. they're trying to find common ground against the regime of the
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president, bashar al-assad. at issue, a peace proposal as a step towards ending the bloodshed. but secretary of state hillary clinton con seeds that the plan backed by both russia and china, as well as some others in the west might not necessarily work. she spoke with the foreign affairs correspondent, jill dougherty. >> let's begin with the critical point that you talked about that assad has to step down, leave. now it appears that the russians want that point. there's no direct demand that assad go. >> i couldn't agree more. what the agreement clearly states is that there has to be a transitional governing body that will be constituted of people who are there by the mutual consent of the government and the opposition. unless i'm wildly off base,
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there is no way anyone in the opposition would consent to assad or his inside regime being on any transitional governing body. >> do you really believe that the russians can convince assad? >> jill, i think that's a great question. because one of the points that became clear, both in my long conversations with in the larger group today, they have committed to trying. but they've also admitted that they may or may not have enough leverage to convince, not just one man, but a family and a regime that their time is over. >> soom people say the russians want to play this out. they look at the election schedule in the united states november, there's an election. they realize there's little appetite either in washington or
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practically any other capitol for military action, and so they're just playing it out. >> i think they have begun to reali realize they are riding two horses at the same time, so to speak. they're realizing we don't have any love lost for assad. we don't have a stake in him staying. but we're afraid of the violence and what will come after. the argument i have made to them consistently is that their failure to be part of the solution is the surest way to ensure we have a civil war with sectarian conflict that spills over the borders. >> and jill dougherty is joining us now. so, jill, bottom line right now, is the so-called plan doomed? >> you know, wolf, if you listen to secretary clinton, it doesn't sound good, does it? and one of the problems is this lack of definition as to whether or not assad has to go. now today at the briefing here
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at the state department, victoria, the spokesperson said they will have -- the opposition will have an ironclad guarantee they will have a veto on whether or not assad is part of the transitional government. and obviously, they don't want him. but this transitional governing body doesn't exist right now. so there's a big question. can it even come into being? >> one other unrelated question as far as this is concerned. i know you spoke with the secretary of state about the so-called blind sheikh convicted of terrorism charges in the connection of the 1993 bombing of the world trade center. the new president of egypt says he wants the united states to release him, let him go back to egypt. i take it the secretary of state is saying no way. >> yeah, no way. she's saying that he was convicted. that the charges were correct. that he is now in prison, and she's saying nothing is going to change.
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and that is the position of the united states right now. >> jill dougherty, off traveling with the secretary of state and doing the interview for us. thank you very much. so how are americans thinking of the health care reform plan now. you've heard from the politicians. you're going to want to see what our brand new cnn o.r.c. poll shows after the controversial supreme court ruling. and the court upheld the mandate calling it essentially a tax. why are democrats desperately trying to avoid that word? i'll ask the democratic national committee chairwoman. debby wasserman-schultz is standing by. uh-huh... ♪uh... ♪ it kinda makes me miss the days when we ♪ ♪ used to rock the microphone ♪ back when our credit score couldn't get us a micro-loan ♪ ♪ so light it up! ♪ even better than we did before ♪ ♪ yeah prep yourself america we're back for more ♪ ♪ our look is slacker chic and our sound is hardcore ♪ ♪ and we're here to drop a rhyme about free-credit-score ♪ ♪ i'm singing free-credit-score-dot-com ♪ ♪ dot-com narrator: offer applies with enrollment in
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on a tempur-cloud supreme mattress set. we've heard plenty from the politicians about the supreme court's ruling on obamacare. but now you'll want to hear what some fellow americans think about it. let's bring in dana bash who has been looking at the story. also looking at a new survey. >> it shows americans are largely divided among party lines. no surprise. republicans say they are very much opposed to this decision. the democrats say they're for it. i took a closer look at a sector of the electorate that really matters, very much matters, and both sides are trying to score points with that. >> the republican rhetoric is red hot. >> i will act to repeal obama care. >> this has to be ripped out by its roots. this is government taking over
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the entire health insurance industry. >> a new cnn o.r.c. poll reveals which voters republicans are trying to appeal to, a small but critical group of independents. check out this number. 55% of independent voters oppose the crux of the law, the government mandate for health insurance. a small majority, but enough to make the difference in a neck and neck race. then there's the issue handed to republicans by chief justice john roberts, who likened the mandate to a tax. >> if this was brought to the public as a tax, there's no way it would have passed into law in the first place. >> the new poll shows 59% of independent voters believe the health insurance mandate is a tax. republicans are on an all-out offensive to tell americans that could hit them. >> the democratic strategy, not surprisingly, is to remind voters about popular parts of the law, like protecting people with preexisting conditions.
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the committee just lost robo calls against ten house republicans with more to come. >> congresswoman wants to put insurance companies back in charge of our health care and let them deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions, like asthma, heart disease and cancer. >> still the sources admit to cnn the laws of the supreme court is a big win politically. >> if i'm the leader of the majority, next year i commit to the american people that the repeal of obama care will be job one. >> republicans are promising to use senate rules to overturn major parts of the law with a simple majority, if they win the senate. >> now from the white house to capitol hill, democrats argued republicans are fighting yesterday's battles instead of focusing on today's problem, that is getting americans jobs. one top republican source told me gop leaders believe the supreme court decision upholding health care is a seismic
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ooechblt in they're favor. they have told senate candidates every day you're not talking about health care is a day you've wasted. >> dana, thanks very much. good report. to our next guest, in addition to people's confusion about buying health insurance, the latest polling reveals a significant mitt romney lead in the so-called battle ground states. about 15 battleground states that will decide the presidential election in november. let's talk things over with the chair of the democratic party, congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz, she's joining us from the district in florida. thanks so much for coming in. we went to the 15 battleground states either leaning one way or another. but they have certainly not made up their minds. among registered voters in the state, 51% support romney. 43% say they support obama. i assume that's deep concern for you. >> well, actually, if you look
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at the nationwide numbers in your poll, it is the 12th out of 13 polls in the real clear politics average of polls that have president obama up over mitt romney. and in fact, the nbc poll done over the same period of time in 12 battleground states has president obama up by 12 points over mitt romney. i'm not sure if you're pole is an outlier or to chalk up we're 127 days away from the election and focused on making sure americans understand there are two visions and two paths laid out before them. and the direction they can go is dramatically different. president obama will continue to fight to create jobs, turn the economy around, and mitt romney and his allies in the republican party will try to drag us back to the failed policies of the past and amazingly focus on denying people health coverage and making sure instead of getting the economy turned around we can focus on making
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sure that people can't get healthy. it's shocking. >> you're right on the national numbers among registered voters nationwide, the president still has a lead, slightly 49% to 46% for romney. that's the same as it was in may. this was the first poll that was completely done since the supreme court decision upholding the president's health care reform law, so doesn't look like that's an enormous different. battleground states, those are the numbers you're seeing now, though. 15 battleground states show romney with a significant lead. 51% to 43%. we'll see if other polls are outlier numbers or if they're consistent with other mainstream polls that will be coming out in the next several days and weeks. let's get to the supreme course decision. the president when he was running for office, he promised he would not raise taxes on the middle class. i'll play a clip of what he said during his race for the white house.
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>> that's why i believe that every single american has the right to affordable, accessible health care. a right that should never be subject to washington politics or industry profiteering and should never be purchased with tax increasing on middle-class families. that's the last thing we need an economy like this. folks are already having a hard enough time. folks in the supreme court decision, they decided the penalty, decided the penalty was a tax increase and most of the people who would pay the tax increase would be from the middle class. they wouldn't be making more than $250,000 a year. is this a violation of the president's commitment not to raise taxes on the class. >> we know mitt romney and president obama agree that the penalty in the affordable care act for deciding to be a free rider, deciding to be irresponsible and not carry
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health insurance coverage, which costs every american more in the overall health care costs, that that is a penalty and not a tax. mr. romney's spokesperson this morning specifically said that he agreed with president obama, this is a penalty. what would happen is that you have a lot of folks -- it's about 1% of americans that choose deliberately to be irresponsible and cost us all more money. by using the emergency room as they primary access point for health care. they roll the dice when they show up to the emergency room, we all pay for the health care costs. that's why the hospital papergowns are $85 and so what the penalty says is we're not all ghoioing to pay for your be responsible. president obama and mitt romney both agree on that. the overwhelming majority of american are covered on health insurance. this would affect a small percentage of free riders, who we shouldn't have to pay for.
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>> you may say it's just a penalty and not that tax. during the arguments before the supreme court, the president's own lawyer, the solicitor general, donald varelli acknowledged point-blank in response to john roberts that it was, in fact, a tax. listen to the exchange they had. >> they are telling me they taught of it as a tax. they zefded it on the tax power. why didn't they say it was a tax? . it is in the internal rev new code. it is collected by the irs on april 15th. >> that's the reason. they thought it might be more effective if they called it a penalty. >> so the solicitor general tells the supreme court representing the obama administration it is, in fact, a tax. it will be administered by the irs. it will be collected on april 15th. why can't you acknowledge that it is, in fact, a tax?
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>> because it's a penalty. it's not a tax. if you decide to be irresponsible and don't refuse to carry health insurance and make us all pay for your being irresponsible, then you can do that, you know. we're not going to require that you have health insurance. what we're saying is if you choose not to carry health insurance, you will be assessed a penalty that will be assessed on your tax return. that affects 1% of americans who choose to do that. >> donald varelli, the solicitor general was wrong? he didn't tell the truth to the supreme court? >> no. on the contrary. the way we think of taxation, wolf, is that taxation, as the irs administers it is collected on broad swaths and large categories of individuals. this is a penalty that will be assessed on the tax return. if you choose to roll the dice and make us all pay for being irresponsible and increase all of our health care costs. we're not going to tolerate that anymore in america.
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you have to be responsible. you're going to pay a penalty if you choose not to be. >> one final question. why is the irs administering this if it's not a tax? isn't it their job to impose taxes? to collect taxes? to punish people who don't pay taxes? >> because that's really the easiest, most basic way to do it. it's the same way they do it in massachusetts. the department of revenue in massachusetts under romney care collecting actually even more significant greater penalty. this is modeled after the same twa that the health care reform law championed by mitt romney in massachusetts was handled. they have a penalty in massachusetts under romney care. it's administered by the department of revenue. it's simply a matter of ease in administration ft. by the end of the day, wolf, what's important, and i can tell you speaking as a breast cancer survivor, someone who lives with a preexisting condition, this health care reform law is about people, not about politics. the republicans are obsessed with making sure that they can beat barack obama. and deliver him in defeat at any
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turn. and rather than focus on job creation. for the 129 million americans who live with a preexisting condition, we find that outrageous. making sure insurance companies can't drop us or deny us coverage is now a thing of the past. i hope the republicans will stop opposing it and get on board and make sure to use towards full implementation. >> i'm going to have more on the subject coming up at the top of the hour in our new 6:00 p.m. eastern hour of ""the situation room." i want you to watch it later if you have a chance and we'll continue this conversation down the road. >> thanks. >> appreciate it very much. all over the word, athletes are ready for the olympics. but something happens we almost never see, dwe spite all the timing technology, one race ended in a tie. so what happens next? could surprise you. and scientists just figured out why some tomatoes taste better than other tomatoes.
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the president from interview: i talk to folks on rope lines and in coffee shops. people who have been out of work. you can tell it wears on them. narrator: he's fought to pull us out of economic crisis for three years. and he still is. president obama's plan keeps taxes down for the middle class, invests in education and asks the wealthy to pay their fair share. mitt romney and his billionaire allies can spend milions to distort the president's words. but they're not interested in rebuilding the middle class. he is. i'm barack obama and i approved this male spirit present.trong it's the priceline negotiator.
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the american swimmer michael phelps drops out of an olympic event. lisa sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in the situation room right now. lisa, what's going on? >> we now know phelps won't tie his own record of eight gold
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medals this summer because he'll only compete in seven events after dropping out of the 200 meter freestyle. his coach made that announcement on twitter, saying it will help phelps to focus more energy on the three u.s. relays. phelps won eight gold medals at the most recent olympics in beijing. and a runoff between two sprinters for a spot in the london olympics has been cancelled. jeneba tarmoh is backing out and understands she'll now be an alternate in the race. she and sprinter allyson felix, they tied for third place at the u.s. olympic trials last month and it was so close they couldn't tell who won. tarmoh did not give the reasons for her decision. if you don't think tomatoes don't taste very good, it may be the tomato, not you. a new study says plant breeders have been genetically modifying tomatoes for years to make them
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look tasty. the result, tomatoes that don't taste very good. when it comes to tomatoes, the lesson here, wolf, is you can't rely on just looks. wolf. so why did the chief justice, john roberts, join the liberals to save the health care plan? we'll ask jeffrey toobin about the mystery. choose control. introducing gold choice. the freedom you can only get from hertz to keep the car you reserved or simply choose another. and it's free. ya know, for whoever you are that day. it's just another way you'll be traveling at the speed of hertz.
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some suggest the u.s. supreme court may have sprung a leak. cbs news citing two sources that chief justice john roberts did change his position to side with the liberal justices. jeffrey toobin is joining us and knows a lot about the supreme court. jeff, what do you make about this possible leak? what's going on in the court? >> first of all, my hat's off to jan crawford who broke the story. you only had to be in the courtroom and look at the justices' faces last thursday to see how emotionally engaged they were with this subject. some of them were angry, some of them were relieved. i think john roberts was very moved by the very difficult position he was in. there are strong feelings and they sometimes get out to reporters. they get out to me. >> is it unusual for a chief justice in a situation like this potentially to change his mind
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only maybe a few weeks before the final decision? >> actually this is a very important point. the supreme court has always had the internal rule that opinions are not final until decisions are announced. so when they announced their positions to their colleagues on the friday after oral argument, that is by definition a tentative vote until the opinions start circulating and until every justice has a chance to sign on or reject each opinion. so there is nothing improper or even all that unusual about a justice changing his or her vote while a case is being discussed, obviously in a very high profile case like this it gets a lot of attention. but certainly there's no suggestion that john roberts did anything wrong by changing his mind. >> in a sentence, what does it suggest about the next term of the supreme court? >> well, i think there are a lot more very contentious cases on the horizon. affirmative action and higher education, the future of the voting rights act, the defense
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of marriage act. i think john roberts will return to being the conserve after he has been for seven years on the court, but in this very important case, he was on barack obama's side. >> certainly was. jeffrey toobin, thanks very much. this note to our viewers here in north america, there's a whole new hour of "the situation room" coming up at the top of the hour, including a seven-month-old crisis that's cost u.s. taxpayers nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars and we'll dig deeper into what voters in a half a dozen or so toss-up states are telling pollsters about the presidential election. we'll be right back. and becoming a fulltime indoor cat wasn't easy for atti. but we had each other and he had purina cat chow indoor. he absolutely loved it. and i knew he was getting everything he needed to stay healthy indoors. and after a couple of weeks, i knew we were finally home! [ female announcer ] purina cat chow indoor. always there for you.
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delivering mail, medicine and packages. yet the house is considering a bill to close thousands of offices, slash service and layoff over 100,000 workers. the postal service is recording financial losses, but not for reasons you might think. the problem ? a burden no other agency or company bears. a 2006 law that drains $5 billion a year from post office revenue while the postal service is forced to overpay billions more into federal accounts. house bill 2309 is not the answer. well hello, welcome to summer road trip, huh? uhuh yep uch let's find you a room. at, you'll always find the perfect hotel. because we only do hotels. wow. i like that. nice no.
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happening now, on the verge of a deal between the united states and pakistan that ends a seven-month standoff. record heat and millions of people still without power after killer storms. plus, an american student fighting for life after a bizarre attack at a world famous refuge. i'm wolf blitzer and you're "the situation room." it's so frustrating to hear political spin like all of you, i'm certainly used to it but i still don't like it very much. the latest example, the white
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house spin in the wake of last week's u.s. supreme court decision. first, let's take a look at what the chief justice of the united states, john roberts, wrote when he upheld the health care law and gave president obama a huge, huge victory. the affordable care act's requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. it says it right there, a tax. that's what saved the health care law, because the congress and the president certainly have the constitutional authority to raise taxes. but on the sunday talk shows, we heard something totally different from the white house chief of staff. >> he went through the different powers that congress has and he found that there is a power, whatever you call it, to assess a penalty like this. >> he called it a tax. >> what the supreme court said was this was constitutional. it didn't matter what congress called it. it is a penalty for the 1%. >> wait a minute, sir. >> it is a penalty for the 1%
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who choose not to buy insurance. >> it's called a tax. >> first of all, the law is clear, it's called a penalty. what the supreme court ruled, this law is constitutional. it's time to move on to implement the law. >> look, i know the white house chief of staff, and he's a very, very intelligent man. he graduated from harvard, georgetown university law center. he twice served as the white house budget director. but on this he's refusing to budge from what the president said back in 2009. listen. >> for us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. what it's saying is, is we're not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you. >> but take a look at this. it's getting awkward right now. the romney campaign is actually on the same page as the obama administration is on this, insisting that the penalty imposed in massachusetts on those who don't purchase health insurance is not a tax.
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>> the governor disagreed with the ruling of the court. he agreed with the dissent that was written by justice scalia which very clearly stated that the mandate was not a tax. >> politically both sides are trying to stay away from anything that implies raising taxes on the middle class, whether you call it a penalty, a tax or both. like i do, i think it's a penalty and a tax. it will still cost money for the so-called free riders who don't buy health insurance, even though they have the money to buy health insurance. so enough of the spin right now. let's focus in on the facts. much more on this story coming up later here in "the situation room." but let's take a look at some of the other top stories in the situation right now. kate bolduan is working those. what's going on, kate. >> it has been a wild weekend for many across the country and we are talking about massive power outages really across the mid-atlantic. two million people from indiana to maryland dealing with these power issues from that intense storm. an in this intense heat, this
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power outage isn't just uncomfortable, it's dangerous. at least 19 people have died from the storms and the power companies say it could be the end of the week-ouch -- before the lights come back on. brian, what do you have, any relief in sight? >> reporter: not for this neighborhood, we'll give you an idea of what some of these neighborhoods are up against. we're on south aberdeen street in arlington. look at this downed power line between me and our photojournalist. he's going to scope down here. this goes down that ravine down here. this was a domino effect of poles being taken out by a falling tree. 12 poles in all down. they have got the new poles in ready to install and a transformer there. this is basically what did it over here. john, if you can show them this mangled mess. this tree took out that pole. then a domino effect. we talked to josh little of dominion virginia power a short time ago. he says they're not only battling weather and some of the
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odds here, they're battling fatigue. >> we have been working around the clock doing storm restoration for six, seven days now. the heat starts getting to them. they take a break. they get well hydrated. but, yes, they get frustrated because they're not getting lights on as fast as they think they should. but they're only human beings. so they're starting to wear out. they're wearing down a little bit but are very determined to get these people back on lights. >> reporter: about 4,000 people are deployed from dominion virginia power just in this region. they're getting help from crews as far away as florida and canada. even with that, we're told the very last people in this general region to get power may not get it back until late friday night. >> brian todd, thank you. it's still amazing, even though we lived through it, to see the pictures you have behind you. pretty amazing stuff all the damage that storm did in such a short period of time. firefighters in colorado say they're making progress against the waldo canyon fire.
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tens of thousands of people got the okay to go back home but some of them may not be coming home to much. check out this video just coming into cnn. about 350 houses utterly destroyed. you can barely tell what you're looking at. you're seeing some video there. authorities say cruise may not have the fire fully under control until the middle of the month. meanwhile the air force is taking its c-130s off firefighting duty after one of the planes crashed in south dakota. there were casualties, but we have no other details right now and no word yet on what caused that crash. when equipped to fight fires, the c-130s can drop 300,000 gallons of water or flame retardant in five seconds and be refilled in 12 minutes, but this is the second time within two months that an air tanker has crashed. we'll be following that very closely. also, now that convicted sexual -- serial child sex abuser, jerry sandusky is behind bars, there are new questions about what penn state officials knew about his crimes.
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cnn has obtained the verbatim of e-mails sent between the university's former president, former vice president and former athletic director. it seems they considered telling police about one of the abuse incidents but allegedly decided it would be more, quote, humane to keep quiet. and now joe paterno's family wants penn state lawyers and the attorney general to release all e-mail evidence saying the leak of selected e-mails doesn't tell the full truth. it's being called the largest case of health care fraud in u.s. history. the perpetrator, health care client glaxosmithkline. it's agreed to plead guilty and pay $3 billion to resolve allegations that it advertised drugs for unapproved uses like weight loss sdplmpl. it seems mexico has a new president. his competitor isn't conceding just yet but he is a member of the institutional revolutionary party which ruled mexico more than 70 years before falling out
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of favor about a decade ago. one of his campaign pledges, reduce the drug violence that has claimed 47,000 lives in five years. they're going to begin the official individual vote tally starting wednesday. a very big moment for the people of moment. >> a huge moment in mexico and in the united states, given our very, very significant relationship with our partner in the south. >> excellent point, wolf. stand by, a lot more to discuss. other important news, a 7-month-old crisis that's truly jeopardized the war in afghanistan and cost the u.s. taxpayers already $100 million a month may soon be over. the u.s. and pakistan said to be close to a deal on reopening critical supply routes used by the american military. our pentagon correspondent, chris lawrence, is joining us right now. chris, tell our viewers what's going on. >> reporter: wolf, our sources here in washington and in islamabad are both saying that an agreement is now expected very soon, and that could mean
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big changes for the supplies coming to u.s. troops in afghanistan. vital american military supplies could soon be flowing over the pakistani border again, bound for the war in afghanistan. senior u.s. and pakistani officials say the two countries are moving closer to reopening border crossings into afghanistan, which could save the pentagon a billion dollars. the pakistani official says his country's military leadership will meet in the next few days to try and finalize the deal. >> a lot of the technical issues have been resolved, but we have to talk about it politically. >> reporter: u.s. commander general john allen has made two trips to pakistan in the last week, along with american diplomats. no now, publicly state and pentagon official would say not confirm the deal, but a u.s. official tells cnn one issue has been for the most part settled, how much it costs the u.s. to move supply trucks across the border. last year it was paying about $250 per truck, but the
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pakistanis had been reportedly demanding $5,000, which u.s. officials called price gouging. the negotiated price is expected to be higher than the original, but nowhere near $5,000. >> we are not saying that we will not -- we are still negotiating. but pakistan wants some space. give us some space to move forward. >> reporter: the u.s. has been relying on a complex set of backup supply routes that wind through a dozen nations and cost the pentagon $100 million more every month. pakistan closed its border crossings in november when nato troops up intentionally killed more than 20 pakistani soldiers near the border. last week defense secretary leon panetta admitted tough issues remained. >> i think the important thing right now is that both sides in good faith keep working to see if we can resolve this. >> reporter: recently, defense secretary panetta indicated that the u.s. was not going to offer an unconditional apology.
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so far the u.s. has said that it regrets the incident, that it was an unintentional shooting, but a u.s. official now says there has been some movement on the u.s. side to sort of amend that or nuance that saying, and he says there also has been some flexibility on that point from the pakistanis as well, wolf. >> so do we know, will there be an apology, won't there be an apology? we know the pakistanis have told me repeatedly they will not allow these thousands of american trucks -- the trucks carrying american military hardware to u.s. and other nato troops in afghanistan to go forward unless there is a full robust american apology for killing those pakistanis. >> reporter: it may be something short of an open-ended apology, wolf. you know, a lot of -- as you know from your years of experience, a lot of the diplomacy involved is in the nuance of the words that are used, so there may be some wiggle room in that nuance that
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can satisfy both the pakistanis and still allow the u.s. not to sort of go back on what it's already said. >> and we'll see what the final number is. $200 a truck as opposed to $5,000 a truck. there's a huge gap in between. when you find out, let us know, but obviously this is a critically important issue for the continuing u.s.-led military operation in afghanistan. chris lawrence with the latest for us, thank you. they're among the most important states in the race for the white house. we have brand new cnn poll numbers from 15, not 14, not 16, but from 15 battleground states that could decide who will be the next president of the united states. plus, an american graduate student is mauled for almost 15 minutes by chimpanzees at a world famous refuge. we're now learning how it happened. that's ahead at 45 after.
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there are the critical states that could make or break the election for the president of the united states or for mitt romney. we have brand new poll numbers just out showing romney ahead in states that matter the most on election day. now only four months away. cnn's joe johns takes a closer look. >> reporter: even though the president maintains a slight edge in our nationwide polling, it appears to be a different story in the 15 battleground states, including iowa, where we met this group of young voters at the court avenue restaurant and brewing company in des moines. our latest cnn/orc poll indicates mitt romney is out to an eight-point, 51% to 43% advantage among registered voters in the 15 states we consider in play. the seven true toss-up states and the eight states leaning either towards the president or his challenger. nick has supported romney since the iowa caucuses and says he
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see the candidate's pragmatism as a key selling point. >> if you look at his record in terms of his ability and the private sector being governor of massachusetts, there's some good insight into his ability to solve problems. barack obama has had four years to solve some problems. i think he's lacked leadership and a lot of direction. mitt romney i think is strong when it comes to solving problems and being pragmatic. >> the news is not all good for the republican challenger. as a presidential election approaches, few things are seen as more important than voter enthusiasm and the income bent president seems to have it on his side at least for now. in march only 46% of democrats said they were enthusiastic about voting in november and now that number is up to 59%. a 13-point increase. >> i'm very excited for this election. i've been really pleased that president obama has put his neck out on the lines for students. >> for romney, not so much. republican enthusiasm has remained almost constant. 52% in march versus 51% now.
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it's a very different race from the last time obama and romney ran for president. >> i think our generation is less connected with this election than they were in 2008. primarily because in 2008 most of us were first-time voters. >> reporter: the poll also shows 79% of voters say they have already made up their mind on who they're voting for in november. anecdotally here in iowa, we didn't find anyone that said they were still on the fence. three of those battleground states, colorado, ohio and florida, tom, tell us what you're seeing. >> wolf, if you look very carefully at this overall picture, the battleground states shown in light pink, light blue, you can look at this number joe just mentioned. 51% to 43%. but that may not tell the whole story because, one, we do not know how that's divided among those states. for example, if there's a very strong showing here in florida for the president comparatively that, could trump a strong showing in some other states that don't have a strong
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electoral leads. plus every place that the president is doing well, for example, over here or up here in missouri where he's putting romney on the defense gives him some advantage because it keeps romney from attacking his strong holds. but let's look at these three states. if we look at colorado out here and see that last time john mccain won here, here's one of the big differences that has to be factored into this. since april, look at the amount of spending that president obama has done in colorado to try to get his message out and get attention. almost $4 million worth. just $1.3 million for romney in the same place. romney has had more appearances since january than president obama, but that's counting all appearances there and that spending is key. let's look at another state here. if we move over here to, for example, ohio. in this state, look at this, same thing. romney has spent close to $8 million -- excuse me, president obama spent close to $8 million. governor romney has spent under
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$3 million in that state. the same thing if we move down here to the big powerhouse, florida, that everybody is interested in. same thing here but even more so. president obama has spent close to $9 million getting his message out in that battleground state. governor romney, $111,000, and yet it remains a battleground. so when you look at the overall result of that poll, wolf, even in the battleground states, you have to take into account how active the candidates have been in those states and how much that is going to change in the next few months because that kind of spending from the president will certainly be matched by governor romney and they'll both keep spending and spending and spending and that could change the battlefield many, many times. so right now the numbers suggest that mitt romney is doing well for the amount of money he's spending in those states. but there is a lot of fighting still ahead. wolf. >> i take it, tom, those numbers don't include the super pac money because the republicans have a lot more coming in in
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their respective super pacs than the democrats have. >> exactly. that's also going to be the wild card in all of this, as you know. as that spending continues in those areas and a lot of it is attack ads on the other candidate, we'll just have to see how much of that sticks. we know from the reporting earlier in the show the health care issue hasn't really favored either side right now, but there are groups out there that want it to favor either side. if the democrats are energized over that, as joe reported, some sense of momentum, you know on the other side the republicans are trying to whip up their base and say come on, this is how you defeat the health care ruling, the first step is electing mitt romney. that's the message they're going to sell. >> thanks very much, tom foreman. you know that, super pac money is going to be enormous this time around. when you add that with the respective campaigns, the democrats and the president, they're going to be outspent. >> it's astonishing the numbers that are coming in in terms of what the super pacs are pulling in. just wait until we see it all
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being spent. i think the money game is a huge story in this election. we'll continue to follow it. coming up at 25 after the hour, hillary clinton says assad must go. the secretary of state talks about the future of syria just ahead. but first, take a look at what's trending right now on number four on our top trending items, there will be no runoff between two sprinters who tied for a spot in the london olympics. one of them bowed out but did not explain why. number three, the woman who lost her left leg, right foot and both hands to a flesh-eating disease is headed out of the hospital. the top two trending stories are coming up next here in "the situation room." ♪
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let's get back to what's trending right now. number four on our top trending list, an olympic runoff is scratched. number three, the woman with a horrible flesh-eating infection
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has left the hospital, thankfully. number two, a deep-sea search begins tomorrow for amelia earhart. it will launch from honolulu in an attempt to solve the mystery that's been going on for years of the aviator who vanished 75 years ago today. and the number one trending story, anderson cooper, our colleague, reveals publicly he is gay. he says he avoided being so open in the past because he was trying to maintain a level of personal privacy. but now anderson says he believes there is a value making clear where he stands saying, quote, the fact is i'm gay, always have been, always will be, and i couldn't be any more happy. and he'll be back hosting "ac 360" on thursday. very interesting -- it's a very interesting story, very interesting read. people should read the letter. >> top trending story right now. >> top strentrending story on c making news -- other news that's happening on cnn right now, secretary of state hillary clinton sat down with our own
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jill dougherty talking about syria'future. this coming just after the international community came to an agreement on steps for what's being called a transitional government. that agreement, according to the secretary of state, doesn't include the syrian president bashir al assad. >> we've had lots of experience in this. we just went through more than a year in yemen. he kept saying he would go, he wouldn't go. people just kept bearing down and pushing forward and eventually were successful. but until today we did not have the kind of road map in specifics with concrete actions that you could telegraph to damascus, where i believe they are shocked that russia and china have signed on to this agreement which so clearly says goodbye to them in this transition. >> secretary clinton went on to say no one who consent to bashir
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al assad orhis cronies with blood on their hands being part of a syrian government. is it a tax, is it a penalty, what is it? we'll debate all the spin on the new health care reform law. ryan, lizza and gordon norquist are standing by. "we love the fusion." mileage matters? "absolutely." up to 33 miles per gallon. the sync system. you can take all the music and put it into the hard-drive. he just got a glimpse of some 21st century technology and he's flipping out. don't miss the ford summer sales event. get a fusion with 0% financing for 60 months plus $1750 cash back. now at your local ford dealer. serving up fords...with everything on them. thor's couture gets the most rewards of any small business credit card. your boa! [ garth ] thor's small business earns double miles on every purchase, every day! ahh, the new fabrics, put it on my spark card. [ garth ] why settle for less?
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certainly an election year, we all know that the word "tax" can be a very, very dirty word. i mention they had at the top of the show. democrats are using spin when they talk about the fee or the penalty americans will pay for not buying health insurance. >> that's absolutely right, wolf. so we're going to bring in our guests in a second but first i want to give us a little back ground about what we're talking about. chief justice john roberts said obama care is constitutional. surviving under congress' power to levy taxes. the white house cheered but it's trying to distance itself now from the "t" word. >> the law is clear. it's called a penalty. second of all, what the supreme court ruled is that this law was constitutional. it's time to move on -- >> under the tax act. >> actually they didn't call it a tax. >> it's a penalty. it's a penalty that comes under the tax code for the 1% perhaps of the population who may decide that they're going to be free riders. >> republican national committee begs to differ, tweeting this
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morning, quote, white house still desperately trying not to call the health care mandate what it is, a tax. and that committee is hardly alone. >> the president said he would never raise taxes on the middle class. this is a middle class tax increase. >> we now know that that piece of legislation created the largest tax increase in the history of the united states. >> obama care raises taxes on the american people by approximately $500 billion. >> you heard mitt romney there calling it a tax in no uncertain terms. but this morning some mixed messages on word choice. here's romney's senior adviser. >> the governor disagreed with the ruling of the court. he agreed with the dissent which was written by justice scalia which stated that the man at a time was not a tax. >> you know what, we're going to go in depth on this right now, kate. we've got three good guests
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joining us. ryan lizza is a corporate and cnn contributor. bill burton is a senior strategist, former deputy white house press secretary. that's the pro-obama, pro democratic super pac he's working for and grover norquist is president of americans for tax reform and grover hates any increase in taxes. is that right? >> dislikes. >> dislikes is good. did mitt romney, when he was governor of massachusetts, raise taxes on the middle class by imposing this so-called penalty on those individuals who could afford to buy health insurance but decided they didn't want to? >> i'm not focused on what he did there. i mean that's a different constitution, a different fight. what we have here is obama campaigning saying he wouldn't raise faxes on middle income americans. they're talking about one in 20 and democrats are trying to insist that they lied to the supreme court when they said it
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was a tax and now it's not. >> the senior adviser to romney said this wasn't a tax increase, what the president did or what romney did in massachusetts. >> i talked to him this afternoon and he made the case that those conservatives who point out correctly that the president it wasn't a tax when he put it in and then went to the supreme -- then went to the supreme court and swore up and down it was a tax increase, let's see, it's collected by the irs. you pay it on your 1040 statement. it's written in the internal revenue code. >> but it was modelled on the pay structure that romney had, the penalty that he had in massachusetts. it's exactly what romney was doing in massachusetts. so i don't understand why not simply say if it's a tax for obama, it was a tax for romney? >> i'm just not familiar with the structure of massachusetts. the important thing is moving forward, romney says he wants to abolish this. it is an unconstitutional whatever you want to call it. it's clearly a tax. >> it is constitutional if you believe in the supreme court. >> i'm sorry, his argument is that it's unconstitutional.
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four supreme court justices say it's unconstitutional. >> but the majority said it was constitutional. bill burton, you're not working at the white house, even though you work for a pro-obama pac. acknowledge what it is, it's a penalty and there should be a penalty for those who can afford to buy health insurance but decide, you know what, i'll take a chance, be a free loader, i won't buy health insurance. if i get sick, i'll go to the -- i'll go to the hospital, the emergency room and let others take care of me. >> look, the supreme court gets to decide the constitutionality of laws but they don't get to decide what words are defined by. and this is a penalty that free-loaders pay who get into the system and try to take advantage of the fact that there's health care available for folks and costs everybody else more. it applies to less than 1% of americans. i mean i personally think it's hi llarious that grover was not familiar with romney's health care plan in massachusetts when
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this was the centerpiece when he was governor of that state. i think this is very narrowly going to be applied. >> and it's going to be applied by the irs, the internal revenue service, whose main job is what, to penalize people or to collect taxes? >> it will not be the first penalty that the irs imposes. there's different penalties that are imposed to encourage different kinds of behavior. >> like what? >> the s.e.c. -- >> the s.e.c. is different from the irs. >> it's on your 1040 statement. the people -- >> it doesn't matter what statement it's on, it matters whether or not it's a penalty for a small amounting of people who try to free load on the system. >> the cbo calls it tax revenue and it's in the internal revenue code. it couldn't be clearer it's a tax. obama lied his way into office when he said he wasn't going to tax the middle class. >> do you want to weigh in? >> first can we bring -- i want to bring ryan in. we're talking about tax, penalty, tax, penalty. it's a great conversation here in washington but it also begs
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the question why do we care, tax or penalty. it is what it is. >> strictly for semantics because politicians don't want to institute anything that has the "t" word. one of the things that roberts was saying is you can't play games. if you're going to penalize someone, let's call a spade a spade and call it a tax. >> there's a practical reason, though, and that's called reconciliation. if it's a tax, it can be repealed with a simple majority in the senate with 51. if it's not a tax, it might need 60. >> it is very complicated in terms what can go to reconciliation and what can't. i don't know what the cbo and paurl men tear january in the estimate who decides what can go through reconciliation with 51 votes and what needs 60 votes, i don't know if they care whether john roberts called that a tax or not. >> but they may care if the irs administers it. >> that's true. before this opinion, the conventional wisdom was the mandate could not be killed through the reconciliation process. but one thing, grover, i think
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you have to -- republicans have a choice here. you can side with scalia, right, and say what roberts did in his opinion is ridiculous, it is not a tax, it is a penalty and should be declared unconstitutional under the commerce clause or you can side with folks who are saying -- with the republican politicians who are saying, oh, the supreme court called this a tax. we agree it's a tax. there's a debate in the republican party over this. >> ultimately the debate is between the two candidates running for president of the united states and they agree it's a penalty, not a tax. >> obama likes the penalty tax that will cost the american people if you had aup all 20 tax increases in obama tax care, five to $800 billion over the next decade. romney says he'll sign legislation to kill it. the difference between the two is one wants to take $500 to $800 billion away from you and the other doesn't. >> hold on, guys. kate, you and i were talking
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earlier, elizabeth mcdouoncdone she's going to be pretty powerful deciding whether you need a simple majority in the senate or 60 to break a filibuster. elizabeth mcdonough, the senate employee, the parliamentarian -- >> she's probably very happy we're throwing her name out. >> stand by for a moment. bill burton made a rather controversial comment today. we'll tell you what it is, what he said, if he still stands by it. stand by. ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] you've been years in the making. and there are many years ahead. join the millions of members who've chosen an aarp medicare supplement insurance plan insured by unitedhealthcare insurance company. go long.
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welcome back. we're here with bill burton, gordon norquist and bill lizza. kate, you work these issues every single day. >> yes. this is one thing that i hear most on capitol hill these days. yes, grover norquist, not a politician. not an employee of the republican party. but if you're on capitol hill like i am all the time, he has become seemingly public enemy number one in the eyes of democrats. listen to the top democrat in the senate, harry reid. >> grover norquist is the only republican leader who can truthfully say he has the entire republican party in the palm of
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his hand. grover has his control in writing, so if you want to know what republican position is on any of the enormous economic challenges facing this country, don't waste your time asking governor romney, speaker boehner or senator mcconnell. just ask grover. >> somebody stuck out in my mind because that's putting a lot on your shoulders. are you willing to take credit for that kind of responsibility? i mean you were just over on the hill just at the end of the june. just say yes. >> that's senator reid's frustration. that is the sound of ultimate suffering coming out. he is unhappy because republicans have refused to raise taxes to pay for obama and reid's big government. and he was sure they would because ten years ago, 20 years ago, republicans could be fooled into running up an sweeping up behind the democrats and raising taxes to put their finger presents all over the tax and
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spending policies, but now the modern republican party has made a commitment to the american people, not to me. senator reid should read the pledge. it's a pledge to the american people that if elected i won't raise taxes. most republican made that commitment in writing to the american people. reid is mad at the american people and their objection to his tax increases. if he wants to yell at me, i don't care but it's a little silly on his part. >> bill, you were on msnbc today. you said something that generated a lot of buzz, some of it not nice toward you. listen to what you said. >> they look at mitt romney and they say, you know, is this clown really going to beat president obama? and the answer is, well, maybe, if he has four, five times as much money as the president. then yes, he may well have a chance at winning in november. >> the word "clown," the word "clown," you're calling mitt romney a clown. you can disagree with his policies, you might not like what he's doing. but to call him a clown, the republican presidential nominee?
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>> you look at the words, take a step back -- look at the sentence before. i say this is what you hear from some democrats. >> you weren't calling him a clown? >> the whole point of me saying that is people need to wake up and realize he is a formidable opponent of president obama's and he is going to outspend the president and the superpacs will outspend the president and, yes, he could win. i'm not into name calling. you can take a step back and look at mitt romney and say here's a guy that made millions of dollars firing people and driving companies out of business. >> i hate the when people call the president of the united states names and i also hate it when they call mitt romney a clown. that's sort of demeaning. >> sure. but if you just listen to what i just said to you -- >> so you weren't calling him a clown. >> the point of what i was saying is he is a formidable candidate and he could win if democrats don't engage. >> you were not calling him a clown? you were quoting others? >> i invite people to take a look at the video.
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of course not, i wasn't calling him a clown. >> you used to call me up and i'd say i'm just reporting what someone called obama, i'm not saying it myself. >> exactly. >> really, this is something that i hear most from you. when the heat -- when it gets so hot, you just really burns him. >> i've been covering this for a long time and i love it when we discuss substance and policy issues and we argue on all the important issues of the day, national security, taxes, economic policy, health care, social issues. but to start name calling, that's when i hate it. that's when i really feel strongly about it. >> it seems like it's gotten worse recently, doesn't it? >> believe me, on twitter what, they call me, forget about them. >> i apologize to you. >> and i think all of us will agree let's have a serious substantive debate and avoid calling the president bad names and -- >> and i invite people to look at what i was saying there because i don't think it calls in the category of what you're talking about right now. >> all right. as a fellow buffalonian, i'll
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accept what you say. >> go ryan fitzpatrick. >> thanks very much. we're getting more amazing pictures from the storm zone. i want to check in with kate. what else have we got? >> that's absolutely right. that's something we're looking at coming ahead. plus he was brutally attacked doing what he loved. what we're learning about a chimpanzee attack at a world famous sanctuary.
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we're learning new details about a chimpanzee attack that severely injured an american graduate student. the animals managed to pull him inside their enclosure where he was mauled from head to toe. lisa sylvester is working the story for us. what an awful story it is. what's going on here? >> this is horrible. we're learning new details. there were actually two fences. an outer perimeter fence and a second main electrical fence. andrew wasn't supposed to go past the outer fence. but for unknown reasons, he did. that's when two male chimps reached out and grabbed him and tried to drag him underneath their fence into their enclosure. it was a brutal attack that lasted about 15 minutes. friends are taking to facebook to raise money for 26-year-old
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andrew oberly who was mauled by chimpanzees in south africa. the university of texas student was there doing research for his masters degree. he was showing tourists around when he acrossed into an off-limits area between two fences. no one knows why. when he got close enough to the inner fence, the chimpanzees grabbed him. >> chimpanzees are known to be violent and can kill other animals. and male chimpanzees are particularly strong. violence in chimpanzees is not unusual. >> reporter: eugene cousins, host of "escape to chimp eden" reportedly rescued andrew. chimpanzees are known to be extremely territorial and very strong. with five times the strength of an adult male, they can inflict horrendous manage. >> the main impact is their teeth.
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their fiat, they can bite out softball-sized chunks of flesh. they can bite right through bone. their jaw strength is incredible. when they want to inflict serious damage, it's their mouth you have to worry about. >> reporter: the institute includes protecting chimpanzees orphaned by poachers or kept chained as pets. in a statement, the institute said, quote, which is a terrible tragedy that should never happen, all our thoughts and prayers are with this young man and family. andrew is now recovering at a johannesburg hospital with injuries to his hands, legs and torso. his friends say they're shock this had happened. they say he was very knowledgeable and had worked in zoos for many years. >> he's pretty much -- loves chimps. it's his passion, what he loves to do. and he really cares about animals and really wants to help them and learn about them. and teach other people about them. >> andrew oberly is now in
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stable but critical condition. we're learning more about the rescue from gene cousins. the chimpanzees turned their attention to him. he was able to get back into his vehicle where they continued charging at him. he then shot one of the chimpanzees in the abdomen. at that point, the other chimpanzees backed off and then they were able to go and rescue oberly. very, very lucky. andrew is very lucky to be alive at this point. >> what a story. thanks very much, lisa sylvester. friends of the victim of the chimp attack are speaking out. they're talking about his life's work, what happened in south africa. that story, 7:00 p.m. eastern on "erin burnett outfront" that's coming up at the top of the hour.
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the magnitude of the power outage in the mid-atlantic region, our picture of the day is coming up next. plus, something new this hour of "the situation room" that we wanted to bring to you. it's call "ask wolf," your chance to send questions about the news and have wolf answer them right here. if you have a question, send it to us by ireport at on twitter, it's @wolfblitzer or on
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we'll be right back. great shot. how did the nba become the hottest league on the planet? by building on the cisco intelligent network they're able to serve up live video, and instant replays, creating fans from berlin to beijing. what can we help you build? nice shot kid. the nba around the world built by the only company that could. cisco.
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i tell mike what i can spend. i do my best to make that work. we're driving safely. and sue saved money on brakes. now that's personal pricing. this is some really amazing stuff. time for our picture of the day. i was awe-inspired when we saw this. we're told it could be days before power is restored in some areas hit by last weekend's killer storms. and take a look here. this is probably a little bit why it's taking so long. look at the mangled power lines near parkersburg, west virginia. this is the scale of the job first energy is facing and power companies throughout the mid-atlantic face a monumental task. this is why so many people could face sweltering days without power. we hope not. but it's pretty amazing. >> could be at least till the
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end of the week for folks in this area. most people wouldn't consider it a dangerous job. but sometimes being a mascot can be brutal. here's cnn's jeanne moos. >> reporter: his critics say that for a winner, he sure acted like a loser, seconds after this french runner won the 3,000 meter steeplechase event at the european championships in finland. he slapped away a gift bag and then shoved a mascot -- the mascot for helsinki 2012. turns out that under that boxy, blue-eyed head was a flesh-and-blood 14-year-old girl. the runner didn't know he was shoving a 14-year-old, but still -- >> what's he got against mascots? >> look at him! >> slap! >> reporter: reaction on the runner's own facebook page was way worse, bloody, stinky swine, what a psycho.
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he's been hot-headed in the past, for instance when a competitor head-butted him, he came out swinging. this wasn't the first time the runner has had a hundred-in with a mascot. two years ago after winning the same race in barcelona, he gave the mascot a big hug, asked him to get down on his knees, then pushed him over. we've seen mascots assaulted before, most memorably when a pittsburgh pirate player used his bat on a passing italian sausage what fell and took out a wiener. there have been cases of mascot-on-mascot assault. and we've seen mascots help run down rowdy fans, in this case with a belly flop. those who work as characters say something strange happens, that you become de-humanized and people do things they'd never do to another human. it could have been worse for the helsinki mascot, like what happened to
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